10 Women In The Industry To Follow This International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women's Day this year we are shining a light on 10 influential, exciting and inspiring female leaders in our industry across food and drink who we think you should be following. The list is in by no means ordered in any way and it was a tough decision to pick just ten!

Olia Hercules
London-based Ukrainian chef, food writer and stylist Hercules pursued a career in food during the financial crisis in 2008 quitting her job as a film business reporter. She trained and worked in London restaurants before landing her first bestselling cookbook, Mamushka, which celebrates family recipes from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, winning the Fortnum and Mason Award for best new cookbook in 2016.

With her family currently stuck in Ukraine due to the conflict, she has joined forces with best friend and Russian chef, Alissa Timoshkina, to launch #CookforUkraine - an initiative that is using food to raise awareness and funds to support the humanitarian effort in Ukraine. The idea is to celebrate Ukrainian and Eastern European culture by cooking traditional meals for supper clubs or bake sales and donating profits to a JustGiving page, with many chefs and restaurants also signing up donating some or all proceeds of dishes to the appeal. The money raised is being donated to UNICEF to support families and children impacted by the conflict.

Ashtin Berry
Berry wears a number of hats - sommelier, mixologist, drinks consultant, sociologist, activist, writer and campaigner. Her hospitality career started when she was 16 and since then she risen to be one of the most knowledgeable and talented people in the USA drinks scene. Not one to rest on her laurels, she founded the agency Radical Xchange that promotes equity in the workplace - creating safer, more inclusive spaces in the hospitality business. She also founded America's Table, which raised awareness around the needs of hospitality workers after COVID-19. She has become a top activist and educator on the frontlines of hospitality, much of it through her popular Instagram account.

Jo Barrett
Barrett has a long list of talents - chef, baker, forager, cheese make, and ecologist. It is almost as impressive as her CV which includes stints at notable names such as Movdia, Tivoli Rd Bakery and Stanley Street Merchants. She leaped to fame at Oakridge Winery in the Yarra Valley with partner and chef Matt Stone, winning a bunch or awards and creating one of the hottest dining spots in the region. These days the Melbournian native has moved north to the Harvest Newry Bar, an hour south of the Gold Coast and is cooking up a storm again. As ever, she is focused on growing, cooking and producing food without the need for large-scale agriculture.

Claire Vallée
With a doctorate in archaeology Vallée never set out to be a chef but rather fell into the career whilst waitressing alongside her archaeology studies. A trip to Thailand saw self-taught Vallée inspired by vegan cuisine and in 2016 through successful crowdfunding and a loan from a green bank Vallee opened ONA (Origine Non Animale) – a vegan restaurant in Ares, France, which in 2021 was awarded France's first ever Michelin star for a vegan restaurant as well as Michelin's green star for sustainability.

Sally Abé
Anyone who as eaten Sally Abé's food will never forget it. With a background that sports such names as the Savoy, Claridge's, Marcus Wearing, Brett Graham's The Ledbury and Phil Howard's Elystan Street, it's no surprise. Her rise to fame was at Michelin starred gastro pub, The Harwood Arms. Since leaving, she has taken up a position to head up four restaurants at The Conrad London St James Hotel. The highlight is a restaurant called The Pem which is named after the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. There, Sally heads up the kitchen which aims to employ more women and change the culture of 'shouty, aggressive kitchens'.

Natsuko Shoji
Starting her career at Florilège, it was in 2014 aged just 25 that Shoji deciding to branch out on her own opening modest tart shop, Été in Tokyo. Blending her passions in life - food, art and fashion she created haute-couture inspired cakes using Japanese seasonal fruits served in exclusive black boxes. With the cake shop gaining increasing attention from celebrities and renowned chefs it grew to an invitation-only four and then six seated restaurant where she showcases her show-stopping pastry. Most recently she has been awarded Asia's Best Female Chef 2022 having previously won Asia's Best Pastry Chef in 2020.

Analiese Gregory
One of the most exciting chefs of her generation, Analiese Gregory dropped the glitz and glam of dazzling Michelin star restaurants and swapped it for a remote cottage in rugged Tasmania. Her credentials are second to none after spending time in Paris's Le Meurice and Sydney's Quay, but these days she has swapped the pressurised pass for learning to hunt, fish, forage and live seasonally. In essence, being closer to nature. Her book, How Wild Things Are, celebrates nature and the slow-food life. It is quickly becoming a bible for a life that has a more equitably relationship with the planet.

Ruth Hansom
Hansom may only be 26 years old but has always had a passion for food, cooking and growing vegetables from a young age as well as entering competitions as a teenager. In 2017 Hansom was awarded Young Chef of the Year and in 2020 appeared as a finalist on the Great British Menu when she competed for the North East. During this time she was working a five year stint at The Ritz where she worked up to chef de partie, and on her 25th birthday the restaurant was awarded its Michelin Star. She is currently the head chef at The Princess of Shoreditch, and since taking over the kitchen it has won numerous accolades including 3 AA Rosettes (the only London pub with this honour) and was awarded Newcomer of the Year at the Top 50 Gastropub Awards at the beginning of this year.

Pía León
Winner of the World's Best Female Chef Award in 2021 León began her career in the kitchens of her native city Lima. In 2009 she took up a position at promising fledgling restaurant Central where within five years she went from the only female chef in the kitchen to its head chef. Central quickly became one of the worlds most celebrated restaurants, winning The Best Restaurant in Latin America three times between 2015 and 2017, and placed Peru on the gastronomy map. In 2018, León took the spotlight opening her own restaurant, Kjolle, also in Lima.

Tala Bashmi
Winner of the first ever Middle East & North Africa Best Female Chef title Bashmi's goal at her restaurant, Fusions by Tala at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain which opened in 2020, is to honour her heritage and showcase Bahraini cuisine in a new light, modernising regional classics. Despite a love affair with food from a young age thanks to her foodie family and visits to the Manama souks with her father she originally pursued a career in professional football, attending college in the US, where an injury forced her to change paths. Her first solo cooking venture was in 2012 with a home-based baking business Baked by T, following which she formally trained in Switzerland and then once home in Bahrain reached the final of Top Chef Middle East.

Image credit - Food Story Media Ltd